VAIL, Colo. - Andy Romero, who this month is celebrating 40 years with Gallegos Corporation, says company founder, Gerald Gallegos, originally told Romero he would have about 10 years of work for him.
“People ask me how I made it this long,” says Romero. “I say that I worked for Gerald the first 30 years and for the company the last 10. The current leadership has the same values as Gerald – hard work, satisfied clients and quality craftsmanship. Gallegos has its stamp all over this county and in several places across the state.”
Gallegos, headquartered in Wolcott, Colorado, is the leader in quality residential and commercial construction services. Their craftsmen create custom works of art in stone, masonry, stucco, plaster, concrete, marble, granite, tile and art rock. Although Gerald passed away in 2010, the company maintains its formidable leadership in Suzanne Gallegos (Gerald’s wife), Chairman of the Board, and Gary Woodworth, President and Chief Executive Officer and a 32-year company veteran.
Woodworth describes Romero as a team leader from day one: “He is responsible for putting the crews together and knowing each mason’s talents. He is close with our workers and a mentor. He is extremely dedicated, hard-working and a thoughtful listener.”
Woodworth also says Romero was instrumental in establishing the company’s H2B program. “He went to Mexico and recruited people. To this day he is very involved with our H2B employees.”
Romero hails from Southern Colorado and a small town called Antonito. When he first arrived in the Vail Valley as a young man in 1977, he started work at the turquoise jewelry store, Golden West, and then a year later, entered the restaurant world with a job at the Bully Ranch pub in the Sonnenalp Hotel. In 1979, he was working at Mariachi’s, a Bully property, and Romero recalled Wednesdays there where you could get a liter of margaritas for $4.
“That’s where I got to know Gerald’s brother, Glen, who was a school principal and he would bring his teachers in on Wednesdays,” says Romero.
“One summer I wanted to try something different and I started working for the ski company picking stone off the hill at Beaver Creek for the mid-mountain lodge. One day Gerald and Glen were riding around in a Jeep while I was quarrying stone. They asked me to consider coming on with Gallegos. I started working for them the next day and kept a restaurant job at night.”
On his second day at Gallegos, Romero was on his knees, striking joints, when Gerald told him to pick up the pace. Romero questioned whether he might soon be fired.
“Two weeks later, Gerald approached me again. He said I should stick around with Gallegos. I asked him if he really thought I had a future here. That’s when he told me he had about 10 years of work for me,” says Romero with a laugh. “Gerald’s dad is from Mogote, Colorado, and when Gerald found out I was from Antonito which is only about 10 miles apart, he felt a connection to me, I think. He started calling me Mogote. He saw that I was willing to work hard and he gave me a chance.”
From 10 years to 40, Romero has risen in the ranks from laborer to mason to foreman to superintendent. “I took my steps and I’ve never looked back,” he says proudly.
You can hear the pride in Romero’s voice when he picks out favorite projects from over the years. Number one is the Knapp Ranch buildings. Knapp Ranch is a working farm using sustainable practices located in the West Lake Creek valley of Edwards, Colorado.
“Bud Knapp was the highlight of my masonry career,” says Romero. “He and Betsy are incredible owners (Betsy passed away in 2017.) Bud was constantly giving the masons a thumbs up and a pat on the back. I had so much freedom and personal growth on that job. You could see Bud’s face light up when he saw our work.”
Romero also points to countless fireplaces and firepits throughout the Vail Valley that have that magical Gallegos – and Romero – masonry touch; the work that went into the Park Hyatt and St. James properties in Beaver Creek; Diamond S Ranch near Eagle; and Solaris in Vail Village.
“I know more about Beaver Creek than most people. It is so nice and satisfying when you can show your stamp to your kids and grandkids - that you had a part of this.”
Romero adds: “Jim Cargill – another great guy and local project. He and his wife, Kathy, are Packer fans. I’m a Bears fan. They invited me and one of my sons to Green Bay when the Bears were playing and we watched the game from their suite. I’ve met some great people along the way.”
Most notably for Romero, however, is the example and expectation Gerald set for the company to give back to the community that continues today.
“We just worked on the bike park in Minturn – that was a major donation. For me to volunteer six to seven hours on a Saturday was nothing. I don’t even think twice about it,” explains Romero.
The Eagle resident received a travel voucher from Gallegos to commemorate his 40 years of service and when travel safely resumes, he and his wife hope to go to Ireland.
Romero, who at 64 and is a grandfather, says he has two to three years left in him at Gallegos. “My travel voucher expires in August of 2022. I asked if the travel expires or my employment,” again, he says with a laugh. “I am looking forward to seeing a little bit of the world.
“I would like to see the younger generation more interested in the trades,” he says. “How do you replace us? Our talent and work ethic are what I want to pass down – that is what is most rewarding.”